Everything Communicates Something to Someone: 4 Questions Every Leader Should Ask

photo credit: Ciccio Pizzettaro via photopin cc

Recently, I received a postcard from a local church. The postcard promoted an upcoming sermon series. The graphic design on the front of the card utilized an edgy, grunge concept. Intrigued, I went to check out the church website. To my surprise, the church’s website was anything but “grungy” or “edgy.” It was fairly traditional.

And the pastors’ headshots revealed suits and ties.

Personally, I have nothing against suits and ties or grunge design concepts. But I left the website slightly confused. What represented the real personality of the church, the postcard or the website?

Everything communicates something to someone. I wish that sentence were an original thought, but it is not. In fact, if you do a web search, this concept shows up all over the place. Yet many organizations struggle to deliver consistent, clear messages regarding who they are and why they exist.

Here are four questions that every leader should ask:

1. Do we know who we are?

Why do we exist? This is not about your product. Product is merely a tool to help accomplish your purpose. Krispy Kreme does not exist to make doughnuts. Krispy Kreme exists “to touch and enhance lives through the joy that is Krispy Kreme.” You cannot be clear without knowing the reason for your existence.

2. Is our top-level team sold out to this purpose?

If your top-level leadership does not wake up every morning, excited about the opportunity to help fulfill your organization’s purpose, the rest of the organization will be even less motivated. Top-level leaders are responsible for rallying their teams, and their team members’ teams, to flesh out the organization’s purpose.

3. Does everyone in the organization talk about the same purpose?

From top-level leadership to frontline employees, everyone’s language should be consistent. A church guest or potential consumer should never hear verbiage that does not align with what they hear or see elsewhere.

4. Does every piece of communication reflect a clear and consistent message, leaving no room for speculation or confusion?

Let me contrast my earlier example. Whenever I receive mail, whether snail mail or electronic, from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, I never doubt the source. The colors, design, and verbiage are always the same. In communicating the purpose of your organization, everything matters. Most will only receive a small slice of your communication pieces. Make sure that with every talk, every piece of mail, every form of communication that you are delivering a clear and consistent message.

Because everything communicates something to someone.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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